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Blues player ratings vs Highlanders | Super Rugby Pacific

By Jordan King
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

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A dominant opening 40 and some individual brilliance in after the oranges was enough for the Blues to earn a 32-25 win over the Highlanders this afternoon.

A late flurry of points from the Highlanders made for an eventful finish at Forsyth Barr, but the visitors held firm to secure back-to-back victories over the southerners.

Here’s how the Blues rated:

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1. Ofa Tu’ungafasi – 6/10

Rock solid in the scrum to ensure his backs were working with clean ball from their set piece and punished anyone silly enough to cut back his way.

2. Kurt Eklund- 4/10

His knack for getting over the pill was nullified as the Highlanders made a more concerted effort to secure their own ball. The usually reliable feeder of the line-out also had a couple of off throws.

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3. Marcel Renata – 5/10

Got around the paddock and was the catalyst for a few counter rucks after testing the Highlanders cleaners at the breakdown.

4. James Tucker – 7/10

Productive with a few classy moments. The Waikato product did all you could ask of a member of the tight five and was cut down just short of the line for what would have got him off the undy run. Has definitely thrown his name into the hat for a starting jersey moving forward. 

5. Josh Goodhue – 5/10

Got stuck into the dirty work from the get go and was making good strides before being on the wrong end of a collapsed mall. Left the field just before halftime and failed his HIA.  

6. Tom Robinson – 5/10

Toiled away for 80 minutes and pulled down all of his targets when lifted. He’ll also be happy to have kept his name off Mike Fraser’s lips. 

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7. Dalton Papalii

A captain who leads with his actions. Always seems to find a way to have an impact by embracing the tasks most players shy away from. Was first-equal with Tucker in topping the tackle column (12). 

8. Hoskins Sotutu – 7/10

The form of Pita Gus Sowakula has overshadowed the All Black’s consistency, but the lack of limelight hasn’t deterred him from continuing his tear. The loosie got over the gain-line at will, the best of which was demonstrated when he palmed off multiple defenders before dotting down. 

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9. Sam Nock – 5/10

Snappy service and made himself a nuisance for his opposite. Chimed in with a couple of nice clearing and contestable kicks from the base.

10. Beauden Barrett – 6/10

An assured 40 minutes from arguably the most important figure to the Blues’s title hopes. The attack is noticeably more potent with him running the cutter and the fact we’re yet to see his running game means there’s still another gear to get to. Departed the contest just after the oranges with a concussion which will have left fans with some worry.

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11. Caleb Clarke – 7/10

Started the game with a powerful finish and kept his afternoon rolling with a number of strong carries to propel his team forward. Finished with the most run metres of any player on the paddock and came up with some big defensive plays down the stretch.

12. Bryce Heem – 5/10

The makeshift midfielder made sure not to overplay his hand and let the X-factor around him do the bulk of the work by getting them early ball. 

13. Rieko Ioane – 4/10

Had very little say despite his team’s dominance in the opening passage. Needed to make more of an effort to get his hands on the ball after finishing with just two touches. A handful of missed tackles was another concern. 

14. Mark Telea – 7/10

Appeared to have oil on him the way defenders failed to pull him down. A great read and turnover on the hour mark while his boys were under the pump was a timely calming of the nerves.

15. Zarn Sullivan – 5/10

Not as prominent with Barrett back pulling the strings, but injected himself when needed and picked his moments well for when to have a go when the Highlanders booted it his way.

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Reserves

16. Ricky Riccitelli – N/A

17. Jordan Lay – N/A

18. Nepo Laulala – 6/10

Called on early to keep the ascendancy in the scrum and followed the suit of his All Black teammate, Tu’ungafasi, with some crunching tackles.

19. Sam Darry – 5/10

Subbed on for Goodhue early in the piece and got his hands into everything. 

20. Adrian Choat – N/A

21. Taufa Funaki – N/A

22. Corey Evans – N/A

23. Stephen Perofeta – 5/10

Thrust into the action earlier than what Leon MacDonald would have planned for. Was the beneficiary of a stretched defensive line close to the chalk and pounced on the space.

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